Man Vs Coast

Man Vs Coast is a 36-40k adventure race from Marazion Beach to Land’s End. It’s my A- event for the year: not as important as Copenhagen but still one of the big events I have been focusing on.

It’s predominantly a run but includes six trips into the sea (be it wading or jumping in), a very small amount of climbing and a couple of rope bridges to traverse. Rat Race describe it as one of those obstacle course races except that the obsticals are the Cornish coastline.


Registration took place the day before in Penzance. They have quite a long mandatory kit list and checked everyone’s kit before we were allowed to pick up our numbers and satellite trackers. The queue took quite a while but luckily it wasn’t raining while we queued.

Race day

I parked up at Land’s End and took the shuttle bus to the start. I felt a bit sick at this point so when we arrived at Marazion I got a hot chocolate and a brownie which helped settle my stomach. It rained most of the morning and there wasn’t much shelter. I got the 7am bus but you could have got on the 8am but and still got to the start comfortably, even if you were in the 9:00 wave as I was.

They had an open-topped trailer where you could drop a finish line bag so I kept my warm clothing on for as long as possible before sticking it in my bag and handing it in. The rain did stop before the start, which was nice.

Part 1: 0-14k

The race starts with a run along Marazion Beach including wading out to waist-deep water and climbing over a sea wall. There was a second sea-based activity further down the beach where we had to dip under an inflatable so this was a full immersion. At each of the sea-based activities, there is a bag drop so you can keep your kit a little drier.

After this is turned off the beach. To get under the main road into Penzance we climbed into the river and walked up the river under a set of two low bridges. It wasn’t quite hands and feet crawling but pretty low. I nearly knocked myself out on a pipe coming out of the bridge; a moment the photographer was good enough to document.

After this we were onto tracks and roads. I stopped to empty the sand out of my shoes before we took the long climb from the south coast to the north coast. At the top, the first feed stop was waiting for us. They were well stocked: crisps, cakes, sweets, fruit, flapjack bars, water and electrolyte drinks. Finally, there was a cross-country stretch to bring us to the north coast.

Part 2: 14-20k

This part was hard. We dropped onto the South West coastal path but calling it a “path” was generous. The terrain was very technical with the route being filled with rocks and often at steep inclines. I felt like I was moving really slowly here with each kilometre taking anywhere from 8 to 12 minutes.

There was a water activity where we had to wade out and around an inflatable. The water seemed a lot colder on the north coast and the rocks were super-slippy so it was slow going.

At one point, we either left the path or it disappeared completely and we had to climb down a very small cliff and back up again. it was only maybe 4 metres, so if I slipped I would only fall my own height. But that feels like quite a lot when you have only been bouldering once!

At least the views where beautiful, overlooking the rugged coast line below.

Part 3: 20-33k

Mercifully, the trail got better from here. it was still very up and down but the paths tended to be gravel and far more runable. We went passed some of the old tin mines and ruins of old stone buildings.

I was slightly delayed in getting through one gap in a wall when a horse decided it was going to block it. Thankfully, it did eventually moved when I asked it to. Some of the paths are cut into the cliffside themselves so a little nerveracking being so close to falling down a cliff.

One section was the “vertical kilometre”. Honestly, if It had not been labelled I couldn’t have told it apart from the rest of the hills on the course.

Part 4: 33-38k

As we approached Sennen the route dropped down onto the beach and we were running in soft sand again. The first activity here was body boarding: you had to grab a body board, run into the sea and board back in. Unfortunately, most of the body boards were snapped in the middle and there were was not much surf to be had, so I didn’t get very far.

At the end of the beach there was a large rocky section where we had to climb or jump for rock to rock. This was a long section that took a while to traverse. At the end, there was another water activity where we had to duck under a line limbo-style.

The final activity was just around the corner and involved climbing down another little cliff and traversing two rope bridges. They move a lot! There were only a couple of metres above the rocks but that felt pretty high at the time. Finally, it finishes with a cliff jump which again was only 2-3 metres high but that’s a lot when you’re standing there, so I treated myself to climbing into the water lower down and swimming over the other side.

After this, there was a climb back up the hill that brought the Land’s End visitors centre into sight.

The finish

The route took us up past the buildings around Land’s End and into the event village to go under the finish arch. Everyone gets a free finisher photo (the others you have to buy) and a cup of “award-winning” soup. Rat Race admit they don’t know who gave the soup said award but it was probably for the weakest soup in the world 😂.

My official time was:


It is a run, not a race: Rat Race publish results in alphabetical order and any comparison of the timings are meaningless because the activities are all optional so you could go much faster by skipping the trips into the sea. That said, I was moving faster than most participants: 116 out of 800.

My watch clocked the total distance as 37.95 km with 1,222 m of elevation gain. Technically, it is not even a marathon, but I would rate the difficulty as up there with the shorter end of ultra races.


The event was challenging and well organised. A lot of people asked me “was it horrible” on account of the cold water and having your shoes filled with water and sand. But not of that really came to pass. The water did not feel cold (except on the north coast) and I soon warmed up again. My shoes soon drained and although they stayed damp the whole time, I didn’t pick up any blisters. I was sore on Sunday but not overly so.

Some of it was fun. But I really signed up to push my comfort zone: trips into the sea, wet feet, climbing, cliffs, rope bridges, point-to-point races, all of that was uncomfortable and I wanted to push myself, which I did.



Don't have time to check my blog? Get a weekly email with all the new posts. This is my personal blog, so obviously it is 100% spam free.


Tags: ,

This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 6th, 2022 at 11:00 am and is filed under Sport. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.